Championing an Ethical Artisan and Craft Marketplace – Naomi Jacob

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You might see a flash of pattern walking past you in Trehaus, a young woman who is often thick in conversation with people dressed in similarly colourful and vibrant attire. This is Naomi Mary Jacob. Young, worldly and visionary, Naomi has dedicated herself to a special kind of business: a marketplace showcasing ethical and sustainable brands from across Asia. When Naomi became pregnant with her son, a very sturdy, wonderfully cheeky young man in the form of Liam – she found her way to Trehaus. Here, Liam plays very comfortably in the sunshine, and Naomi builds Coopita’s community.

Hey Naomi, how did you hear of Trehaus?

When I found out I was pregnant, I was really stressed, because I had just started Coopita and I had always thought that whenever I had a child, I would want to take a couple of years off to raise him/her. I was looking online for solutions that would enable me to work on Coopita as well as be hands-on for my little one. I can still remember the relief I felt when I stumbled on the homepage for Trehaus. The descriptions were exactly what I wanted to hear – sun-drenched, sensory play, flexible and adaptable. I quickly booked a trial for the next day and had my fingers crossed that the space would live up to the description.

Today, a year into my membership at Trehaus, I can say boy, it didnt disappoint!

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Was working from home an option? Why did you choose to work in Trehaus?

Part of building your brand as a young company involves getting your name out there, so it wasn’t really an option to stay home for more than a couple of months after Liam was born. I initially came into Trehaus two days a week, when Liam was very young. I would fix all my external meetings and calls on these days. As he grew older and demanded more stimulation, we started coming in three days a week. Now we come in almost every day together. It’s fantastic that Trehaus allows you to have that sort of flexibility with changing your membership to suit your family’s needs.

I chose Trehaus because it presented the opportunity to have a very rare, very special middle path, where I didn’t have to make absolute choices between my career and my baby.

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We loved how you talked about ‘Octopus Style Parenting’ in your Hunter+Boo interview! Besides the BabyBjorn time with Liam (#notanad #trehauswouldntmindsponsorshiptoo) and Aunty Jackie’s magical abilities,  what do you love about our modern village?

Ai, where to start? None of my friends have babies – so coming to Trehaus has allowed me to meet so many awesome parents, most of whom are also juggling multiple balls in the air at any given time. From trading lazy momma hacks or getting information on the best deals for baby stuff, to bouncing off business ideas and forging new business partnerships, I feel like I have found my tribe here.

Of course the most awesome part of the whole experience is the care and professionalism of the Atelier staff, and how they bond so strongly with our kids. Generous with cuddles and hugs, and never short on patience,  I thank my stars every day for these awesome ladies. Liam is such a confident, secure and sociable little 9 month old today in a large part thanks to their efforts.

What are the key ‘mum’ shifts in your day? eg. emails to feeding Liam, meetings to watching Liam play from the pantry

Haha, everyday is different, but it usually centres around Liam’s legendary tummy. So we come in after his morning nap by around 11, I feed him his lunch and then put him down to play. This usually takes till about 11.30-11.45. Then I get down to work till about 2.30, when it’s milk time. After a quick diaper change and some cuddles, Octopus style (well i try to sneak in cuddles while he squirms and wiggles away), I get back to work till about 5.30 pm.

Then I head over to the Atelier, play with Liam for a bit and get everything together to leave. Our equipment on any given day resembles what a Sherpa would carry to Everest base camp probably. Carseat, stroller, lunch bag, diaper bag loaded to the max, diaper pail, carrier, blanket and usually some groceries for dinner. Of course, we usually forget bits and bobs such as bibs and pacifiers, but you know, maybe it’ll help him wean off them.

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The team has watched with you as Liam changed over the past few months, in terms of his growth and development. What are your favourite Trehaus moments with Liam and why?

My very first favourite moment was watching Auntie Jackie rock Liam to sleep in the BabyBjorn bouncer. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel for my tired, tired arms. :-) Some big milestones for me was watching him sit up without support, eating solids with gusto, interacting with other, bigger kids and holding his own quite well, confidently crawling and exploring every corner of the space once he became mobile and even scooting up and down the tunnel with such glee! Now he is trying to walk around using whatever he can push as a walker, so it’s probably a matter of time before he takes his first steps in the Atelier!

How has being in this space as a coworker impacted your business / work / career?

In short, I wouldn’t have been able to put in any work into Coopita without Trehaus over the past 9 months.

Your family is stunning! So much joy and such a melting pot. What’s it like to have this amazing blender of sights and sounds in Singapore and a multicultural family to boot?

One of the reasons we love living in Singapore is that no one bats an eyelid at multicultural families, and in fact, a lot of our friends are in multi-racial relationships. Here’s a funny story. When Johannes and I got married, my then five year old cousins took great pleasure in announcing to the world that our kids would be striped like zebras. So when we knew we were expecting a baby, we called the little one Project Zebra. Now the joke’s on us because Liam has really brown legs, and his body lightens up until his face, which is really fair, like an ombre effect.

Any words of advice for a mum like you who would like to bring their kids to work?

Go for it! In fact, I’ve found that I’m better at prioritising and saying no to things that are not super relevant, post motherhood. I get more chores done at home and because you cannot 100% count on getting time “later”, you learn not to procrastinate, I’d say that working parents become super efficient.

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What does the term ‘modern village’ mean to you, and how does Trehaus reflect this for you?

As an expat, with both our families in different countries, when you have a baby, things can get very isolating if you don’t have a strong support network of friends. To me, this network is the equivalent of the “village” that it takes to bring up a child. At Trehaus, we bond over our kids and sometimes the challenges of being a working parent – as I mentioned, none of my friends are parents yet, so I would be totally lost without the moms and caregivers at Trehaus, who form a large part of my modern village today.